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Albert Einstein, Cycling and the Art of Dentistry

August 27, 2018

Albert Einstein often stated, “any solution to a problem should be as simple as possible but no simpler”.  He would reject theories if he felt they were too complex or convoluted.

Einstein was an enthusiastic cyclist and extolled the virtues of the humble bike, which he rightly considered an engineering “tour de force”.  He believed the design was perfection, claiming “anyone looking at a bike can immediately understand how it works, if it breaks down it is simple to see the fault and fix it, if I look under the hood of a car, what a mess”.

Leonardo da Vinci was quoted as saying, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication”.

As a dentist of increasing vintage, I have come to appreciate the virtues of simplicity. For any dental problem there will be a series of solutions, going from the very simple to the very complex. 

I have learnt always to start at the very simple, because there is less to go wrong and, if or when it does go wrong, it is easy to fix.  I could step up to the next level of complexity, however, we can never step back.

If a patient attends with a broken tooth I will try to repair it with a simple filling, hopefully, it will last for many years.  If it fails maybe it can be repaired with another filling; I might need to consider a crown.  However, if that patient had attended and I jumped straight into crowning the tooth, when it fails, my options would have become limited.

The first rule of dentistry is:

“Everything a dentist does will eventually fail” unless of course a patient’s mortality steps in first, then you had a lifetime guarantee!

A smart dentist knows that the work being placed will fail and will have a plan of what can be done when the failure occurs.  More importantly, the patient should also know the plan and the implications of any replacement.

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